This letter is written in response to U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster's op-ed column published in the Sept. 30 edition of the Mirror.
First the ugly truth: The U.S. health care system is broken. In 2011, the United States spent more on health care per capita ($8,608) and as a percentage of GDP (17.9 percent) than any other nation in the world while consistently under-performing on many health-care metrics when compared to other industrialized nations.
Why, when we have the best doctors and hospitals in the world, is this the case?
Quite simply, it is because citizens' access to health care is limited due to the fact that in 2012, 48.6 million Americans (16.3 percent of the population) had no health insurance.
Recent articles in the Mirror attest to this problem.
In response to the growing U.S. healthcare crisis, on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") became law.
As with any large complicated new government initiative, problems are and will continue to occur as it is implemented.
Changes do need to be made to improve the law, but all nonpartisan analyses indicate that millions of Americans will suddenly gain health coverage when Obamacare is fully implemented, while simultaneously the long-term rate of increase in health-care costs will decrease.
Please realize that health insurance premiums increased 131 percent from 1999-2009 before Obamacare became law.
So everyone needs to take a deep breath and realize Obamacare will not destroy the already broken U.S. health care system. Our Republican leadership in Washington needs to stop misinforming and frightening us.
No, Obamacare will not affect the ability of families to make their own health-care choices.
Threats to shut down the Federal government, or even worse force the U.S. government to default on our financial obligations unless Obamacare is defunded are irresponsible and childish and will result in negative consequences affecting the U.S. economy, businesses and job markets.
A more productive response would be to work together with Democrats to improve Obamacare moving forward as the need arises, not moving backwards.
John M. Dinger, M.D.